Tag Archives: Distributism

A Republican Class War

As most of you know, I ceased being a supporter of Capitalism a few years back and switched over to being a Distributist.  The genesis of the shift was my growing realization that Big Corporation and Big Government were two sides of the same coin while the very rich – for all their being demonized in liberal rhetoric – are for the most part liberal Democrats.  I cannot perceive a way for us to finally win – win where we can amend the constitution and thus undo the liberalism which is destroying us – unless we take out the whole of the enemy arrayed against us.  Since I figured that the Capitalist system was actually in alliance with the socialist system, I easily found myself slipping in to Distributist beliefs – which, to boil it down, are that nothing “too big to fail” should be allowed to live.  That a man, working hard and living frugally, should be able to by himself support his wife and children.  That almost all political decisions which affect the day-to-day lives of citizens must be made at the lowest level possible.

In the 2012 election we got a bit of confirmation of my views – 8 of the 10 richest counties in America were carried by Obama.  The rich like Obama.  They voted for him.  They donated to his campaign.  Do you think they actually believe that Obama’s “tax the rich” rhetoric is directed at them?  It isn’t.  And they know it.  You see, as I’ve been saying for years, “tax the rich” is a mere propaganda phrase for the Democrats.  They portray themselves as being on the side of the poor and the middle class and their most effective argument in this portrayal is their repeatedly announced determination to “tax the rich”.  But here’s the thing – they never, ever tax the rich.  They tax the middle class and dress it up as a tax on the rich.  They say they want “millionaires and billionaires” to pay their fair share….but a “billionaire” in the tax code starts at $200,000.00 a year.

Continue reading

Doomed to an Economic Depression?

Lots of bad news out there, today – US unemployment rate rose to 8.2%, Eurozone unemployment rose to 11% (ours is probably right there, too, but the Eurocrats haven’t, it seems,  figured out how to fudge numbers as well as Obama’s Bureau of Labor Statistics has), a host of bad news out of China indicates a possible “hard landing” for that economy, which will take Australia and Canada (major commodity suppliers to China) down with it, what amounts to a bank run in Greece and the start of one in Spain…and, yesterday, I read an article which I hope was a bald-faced lie because it says the derivatives market (something I don’t fully understand but from what I can gather it is nothing but a bunch of ponzi scheme garbage) is leveraged to 10 times global GDP…and there’s simply nothing to back all that garbage up.  So, are we doomed to a Depression?

The answer is “yes” and, also, “it started in 2008″.  For you liberals out there, this will provide you a bit of comfort:  Obama is not at fault for it.  On the downside, though, just about everything he has done has ensured that it not only won’t get fixed, but will actually get worse.  He hasn’t been alone in this, of course – Ben Bernanke at the Federal Reserve (as well as other central bankers around the world) has piled on the harm with all his money printing.  The problems of the global economy are as follows:

The world uses fake money – money just printed up by central banks and backed by nothing.  Fake money allows insolvent banks and governments to keep themselves afloat but it works out to the systematic stealing of the money of wealth-creators.  If you work hard today and earn a dollar what will happen is a 100th of a penny of it will be stolen tomorrow…that 100th of a penny isn’t so bad, but after 10 years it works out to quite a lot of the dollar you earned.  Fake money essentially allows failure to be masked – what is economically counter-productive can be kept going because you can keep passing fake money through it.  That you are all the while eroding the entire economy does not show up for a while, but show up it will.

We allow governments to pile up debt.  Government debt is not an “investment”.  An investment is when you take some of your own money and provide it to someone else who has worked out a plan to generate more wealth than was put in to it.  So, I have $100,000.00 and I see some guy in a garage with what I think will be a great product and I give the $100,000.00 to him to start up manufacturing – next year, the guy in a garage is a guy in a factory and he pays me back $125,000.00 while he, himself, is worth $250,000.00.  Government spending can provide some useful things, of course, but even when it does it isn’t like that.  A road facilitates commerce but it doesn’t actually return money on the money spent.  If the government spends a billion dollars building a new road its not like the government will get 1.5 billion dollars back on it next year.  True, the economic activity stimulated by the good road will result in a broader tax base but its still not an “I loan you money for your wealth-producing enterprise and I get paid back with interest while your wealth-producing enterprise just goes on and on making more and more wealth”.  So, even in the best of circumstances (a needed road), government spending is not an investment; even less so is government spending an investment when it goes in to things like high paid bureaucrats, subsidies to favored groups, welfare, etc, etc, etc.  It still might be something desired overall but it isn’t an investment.

Even worse, though, when the government spending is not out of current revenues but is borrowed against future revenues.  When we spend tomorrow’s money today on government we are not only not investing but we are de-investing…because every cent borrowed by the government is a cent which can’t be borrowed by persons and enterprises in the private economy who would use that borrowing to create new or expanded sources of wealth creation.  Whatever benefit you might get from such borrowing will be short lived, at best, and may actually harm the economy because the money borrowed by government is all too often to be wasted by the sundry sorts of graft common to government.

What started in 2008 and continues to this day – masked by a gigantic amount of fake money and government debt – is the logical and easily predicted outcome of a system which has at its bottom fake money and government debt.  I’m only astounded that it has kept going as long as it has.  Shows the power of people to blind themselves to reality – and our short-sightedness.  We listen with amusement to tales of what prices used to be…never thinking for a moment that, hey, the reason prices used to be lower is that our money was worth more and what the heck happened to our money?  It is when we create wealth that we get prosperous – when, that is, we make, mine and grow things.  Nothing else does it.  10,000 law degrees, 100 government departments and bureaus and the next 50 social media sites – not a single bit of wealth being created.  The next time a farmer plants a corn crop?  Wealth created.  The next time a miner digs in the earth?  Wealth created.  The next time someone makes a pair of pliers?  Wealth created.

In order for this wealth creation to happen we mush have three things:

1.  Investment money for wealth-creators to start up or expand their wealth creating enterprises.

2.  Reliable money which holds its value over time so that investors can safely invest for long term wealth creation (fake money, on the other hand, moves investors to protect their wealth by looking for the highest rate of short term gain).

3.  A tax and regulatory system which encourages money to flow in to wealth creating enterprises while laying the burden of proof for new regulations upon those who would impose them (not, as now, simply imposing them and then asking the victims to prove they aren’t necessary).

Investment money will primarily come from paying down government debt.  We’ve got $15 trillion of potential investment money sitting in the form of US government bonds.  Entirely wasted there – we need to balance our budget as swiftly as possible so that each year more and more of the $15 trillion becomes available to the private economy.

Reliable money would best come from returning to the gold standard but people have been so relentlessly propagandized against such currency that it would be a hard sell.  Our best option, for now, is to require Congressional action for increasing the supply of money – whatever we do, don’t leave in the hands of central bankers to go “cntrl-p” whenever their Bankster buddies are in trouble.

As you can easily see, neither of those things can be fixed as long as liberals have any say in the matter, let alone any real efforts to tackle tax and regulatory reform.  Essentially, fixing the problem requires a clean sweep of our liberal Democrats – though even if we did that we’d have no end of trouble from the RINOs.  What needs to be done to fix things, after all, is the gutting of a politico-economic which the current beneficiaries don’t want to let go.  A long, hard war is required – but we take each battle as it comes.  The first one comes on November 6th – then we can start actually fixing our economy and emerging from the Depression.

 

The Ryan Budget and Catholic Social Teaching

The American Catholic has an excellent round of commentary on the Ryan budget and the ensuing debate carried out on the question, “is the Ryan budget in accordance with Catholic social teaching, or not?”.  While this might seem an arcane debate for only Catholics to engage, the fact is that the debate is ultimately about what sort of America we will have.

There are two words everyone has to familiarize themselves with:

1.  Subsidiarity.

2.  Solidarity.

In a nutshell, “subsidiarity” is the Catholic teaching that all decisions should be made as far as possible at the lowest level.  This covers all sorts of decisions – political, economic and religious.  While the higher authorities play a vital role, their role is rather one of support and instruction rather than mixing in the day to day activities of life.  It is for you and me, dear reader, to take care of the poor in our midst – just as it is our duty to work and earn our own living; it is for the federal government to assist us in this – mostly by ensuring law and order, the execution of justice and our common defense against outside enemies; but, also, at times by directly aiding us when our own good, solid efforts are insufficient to secure what is necessary for the liberty, safety and dignity of ourselves and our fellows.

And that leads us in to “solidarity” – none of us is an island; we are not a law unto our selves.  We are part of a group and while we have absolute rights vis a vis the group, we also have absolute responsibilities to the group.  We do, indeed, have a right to our property and the fruits of our labor – but we also have a duty to ensure that our neighbor does not lack the necessities.

Liberals tend to concentrate on the “solidarity” aspect and use it as a justification for the welfare State.  Libertarians tend to concentrate on “subsidiarity” and use it as a justification for government so small as to be incapable of doing the genuine tasks of government (especially in terms of ensuring justice and the defense of the nation).  Paul Ryan’s plan is a judicious mix of subsidiarity and solidarity – as it should be, because while the laws of God are absolute, the actions of human beings within the parameters of those laws are subject to many varying pressures and needs and thus prudential judgement is needed in each particular instance in figuring out what is best.  Neither libertarianism nor statism is the answer – in some cases the State must take a strong stand, in others the State must butt out…in most cases it has to be a little of both.

Ryan is being furiously attacked, especially by liberal Catholics who see in the Ryan budget the moral justification for dismantling the welfare State.  They are attacking Ryan’s plan because they say it will harm the poor – but the fact is the plan wouldn’t do anything of the sort; it would, though, harm the vested interests of the welfare State who do little for the poor, but seem to make quite a lot of money ostensibly caring about the poor.  But do have a care – if Ryan’s budget is ever passed (say in January, 2013 and then signed in to law by President Romney) then the attacks will start to come from the other side – libertarians who will be upset that the State refuses to become morally neutral and still seeks to have a role in American affairs.

While Ryan’s plan has a great deal of Catholicism in it (no surprise given Ryan’s Catholicism), it really brings up and clarifies the real debate – super welfare State, libertarian anarchy, or a well reasoned approach which understands that things don’t resolve themselves in perfect, little boxes?  The whole of the American experiment – our whole Constitutional order (currently hibernating) –  is based upon the Founders’ realization that (a) no one has all the answers and (b) a wise system will leave great latitude for individual and local action while still retaining a government strong enough to act forcefully when necessary.

We’ll see how it comes out – but Ryan has earned the gratitude of all Americans who wish to see the Founders’ vision restored to America.

 

 

Our Really Lousy Housing Market

From Zero Hedge:

In its schizophrenic manner, the media across the country lamented the housing-starts numbers, which were ugly: 571,000 annualized in August, down 5% from July, down 5.8% from August 2010, and down 75% from its peak of 2.3 million in January 2006. But for the housing market to heal, that number should be near zero for years.

18 million vacant units, that’s the problem. While some people dispute that number, everyone agrees that the inventory of vacant units is huge. Whether it’s 18 million or 12 million doesn’t change the problem. It only changes the duration of the healing process. This is the hangover from the housing bubble when the industry built millions of units for speculators who never had any intention of living there. And now, no one lives there…

Believe it or not, even out here in Las Vegas some new homes continue to be built – and I can’t see why.  To be sure, if someone actually came up to a home builder and specifically ordered a new home built, I could see that.  But we’re actually arguing right now over whether a developer should be able to start a new, high-end housing development near Red Rock canyon (I’m forthrightly opposed…first off, because we don’t need additional housing in the metropolitan Las Vegas area, secondly because I don’t want to see the Red Rock area marred by another round of cookie cutter houses…and if you do come to visit Las Vegas, do head out to Red Rock; you’ll not be disappointed and its not a long drive…you can even go horseback riding out there).  That aside, the article is right – we should be building zero new homes…now and for  many years.  We’re already glutted…and now that the courts have ok’d it, the banks are about to proceed with another very large round of foreclosures.  The problem will get massively worse before it ever gets better.

As for what to do with all the construction workers – my best idea for them is to shift them over to manufacturing, farming and mining…and, of course, whatever related construction will be necessary for an expansion of those industries.  We simply do not need houses…not only are we over-built but we’re running out of people to put in the houses, anyways.  The Boomers are retiring and, if anything, downsizing their housing…the follow-on generations are much smaller.  The idea that housing will be a core component of American wealth creation is over with  – it won’t be, not for another 50 years, and even then only if we throttle the Culture of Death and start having children again. There will always be a need for some home construction, of course…houses do deteriorate over time, but we’ll not need as much home construction as before.  And perhaps our home builders instead of throwing up cracker box houses can work on building houses designed to last a century with no major repairs?  More brick and stone, less drywall and stucco-over-chicken wire?  Housing which uses wind and solar to provide some  of their own electricity?  Houses that dispose of more of their own waste?  Maybe houses with bigger lots and built to make a neighborhood look normal rather than manufactured?  Just a thought…

A complete re-working of our economy will be necessary in order for full recovery to occur.  As I’ve endlessly harped upon – Making, Mining and Growing things.  We can’t live on home construction, auto manufacturing will never be as premier as it once was…and the cool, electronic gadgets are nice (and we should strive to lead the world in this area) but they can’t provide the literal tens of millions of jobs we’re going to need.  Only getting out there in to factories to make our own mundane items – clothes, tools, etc – and mining our own wealth out of the ground and growing not only our own food, but the world’s food will do it.  And in order to get there, we have to re-work our tax and regulatory systems to ensure that those who are willing to make, mine and grow things are left unhindered and, indeed, fostered by government action.  And even then, good people, it will be 20 years before American prosperity returns fully.

But, we can do it, if we want…now, do we want to?

Median Male Earns Less Than in 1968

From Zero Hedge:

While the fact that a record number of Americans are living in poverty should not surprise anyone at this point, what should surprise many is that according to Table P-5 of the Census report of (Lack of) Income, the median male is now worse on a gross, inflation adjusted basis, than he was in… 1968! While back then, the median income of male workers was $32,844, it has since risen declined to $32,137 as of 2010. And there is your lesson in inflation 101 (which we assume is driven by the CPI, which likely means that the actual inflation adjusted income decline is far worse than what is even reported). The only winner: women, whose median inflation adjusted income over the same period has increased by 188%. That said, it is still at 65% of what the median male makes. So injustice all around…

Why has this happened?  Because since 1968 we have gone about destroying – via taxation, regulation, lawsuits and “nimbyism” – the ability of Americans to make, mine and grow things.  We can’t all answer phones in call centers, nor can all of us be computer programmers.  We have to make things, mine things and grow things…we have to produce wealth.  If we do, then wages rise…if we don’t, then they stay flat or decline.

It is time to restore the American economy be removing the barriers to wealth creation.  We have to allow people to work for a living – if we do, then wages will start to rise, fewer people will need government assistance and our overall finances – public and private – will improve.  If we don’t, then we die as a nation.  It is as stark as that.

And in order to do all that, we must over turn the current Ruling Class – they are in charge of Big Government and Big Corporation.  They are very well off and don’t care at all about how the average American lives.  They live in a world where struggle is non-existent, the family is unimportant and God is forgotten. As long as they are latched on to us, things cannot improve.  Remember that as we go in to 2012…anyone who is unwilling to shake up the status quo is unworthy of support…and the more revolutionaries  (ie, TEA Partiers) we can elect, the better.

The War Against Economic Freedom

From Points and Figures:

Last night I went to see the documentary Farmageddon in Chicago. I also stayed for the full panel discussion…
…This documentary illustrates the plight of the organic farmer, specifically the organic dairy farmer. If a dairy farmer wants to sell raw milk, they will be run out of business and many times imprisoned by the federal bureaucracy. The USDA actively tries to run Raw Milk Producers out of the business. They work closely with agents from state agricultural agencies.

The documentary shows film of agents descending on various organic farms and outlets, guns drawn, SWAT teams present. It’s straight out of science fiction and something that you can’t believe happens in America. I can understand a huge police presence when going after a drug lord, but a family farmer? Sure, farmers keep guns but in my experience they aren’t violent people…

Why does this happen? Because we have built a corporate and government system which is forcefully opposed to a free market.  The market is where people go to buy – what is in the market is whatever people try to sell.  With reasonable regulations for genuine safety, people are supposed to broadly be able to decide what they will buy in the market and what they will sell.  The trouble with this rather common-sense ideal of the market is that it cuts in to the profits of the largest sellers and by giving people choice is annoys Big Government which prefers that you buy what the government wants you to buy.

Its not just organic milk producers.  Time and time again over my life I’ve seen the heavy club of government working in tandem with established business interests to crush market place upstarts.  If you ever wondered why we’ve only got 3 US auto makers – instead of 30, as the size of the American auto market would indicate – it is because Big Government and Big Corporation have set things up so that no one else can enter the market…except, of course, for big, foreign outfits who can afford to grease the legislative and regulatory wheels.  What the final result of all this has been is a progressive constriction on entry in to the market place – ultimately, a restriction on the ability of average Americans to create new wealth.

All of this utter nonsense of safety regulations, lawsuits, warning labels, etc works out to be nothing more than restraint of trade – and a restraint of trade which ensures easy profits for Big Corporation and a steady stream of donations to politicians in favor of Big Government (Big Union is in there, too…a sort of hybrid of Big Government and Big Corporation, working both sides of the street, as it were).   For 100,000 years or so the human race managed to consume milk products and we never died out – some how or another with out a single regulation from the FDA, humanity survived milk consumption.  The bottom line is that milk is food…a sort of food human beings are very used to eating.  Of course, like all human activities, eating food does carry a risk.  But, then again, life is risk…and, in the end, you never get out of it alive, anyway.

Don’t get me wrong here – I’m no libertarian arguing for a completely unregulated market, but what regulation there is must be there to ensure honesty and dignity.  If it starts getting in to deciding what you will buy, then it is a negation of the market place.  If someone wants to buy raw milk, then as long as the seller is honest about his product, then government has no interest in the transaction.  So, too, with all other economic transactions…as long as no one is defrauded or degraded (a human being cannot sell a human being – even if that human being is himself), then government should, for the most part, keep hands-off.

When I speak of freeing up our economy, this is what I mean – getting rid of the government and the corporations who shackle the economy.  We are bound hand and foot…and thus our people are growing poor, our dependent class is growing and foreign competitors are starting to catch us up.  We can fix this – but to do so Big Government and Big Corporation must be brought to heel.

Noticing the Recession and Finding the Cure

Good thing to do, because the one that started in 2007 kind of sneaked up on us in 2008, right?  Well, my bet is that the renewed (double-dip) recession began in April or May of this year and rather than wait until 2012 when it is plain as a pikestaff, why not dig around for the indicators that its already here?  The bad news here is that I’m not skilled enough to do that – but Tony Pallotta over at Zero Hedge, is:

The consumer driven recession has begun. Keeping it very simple of the four GDP components (consumer, fixed investment, government and net trade) the consumer has simply rolled over. In Q1 2011 the consumer contributed 1.46% to the 0.4% total GDP. In other words if it was not for consumer growth or even if .5% of that growth was removed the economy contracted in Q1 2011.

Fast forward to Q2 where the consumer component is now 0.3%. In other words the trend of the consumer is deteriorating. Representing roughly 70% of total GDP the consumer is the economy. Confidence drives the consumer, the consumer drives demand and demand drives the economy…

Which is why, by the way, we need to shift our economy from consumerism to wealth creation.  We have used debt to finance consumer spending – and now the debts are too high and the consumer is tapped out.  There is no way for consumer spending to lead us out of recession.  Rather than buying gadgets from China and calling that “growth”, we need an economy which will make things here in the United States.  The reality is that the only things of genuine economic value are things which are made, mined and grown…if what you’re doing doesn’t do or facilitate such actions, then it just isn’t that important to the economy.  Doesn’t mean it shouldn’t happen but it is just not something we need to be concentrating on.

The trouble is that our current government doesn’t recognize this.  Obama and Co (and quite a few Republicans, too) figure that we can some how, some way, keep things going as they have been for the last 30 years (and especially the last 20).  The thinking is that we can re-inflate asset bubbles, give people a sensation of being rich and convince them to plunge even further in to debt to buy things increasingly made overseas but which generate profits here in the United States.  Sorry to say, but it just can’t work like that any more…ultimately, if you want to buy something from a foreign country, you have to exchange wealth for it…the way we’ve been paying for the stuff we get is to sell off, as it were, our capacity to make, mine and grow things.  Essentially, in return for that cool cell phone, you gave China a factory, Mexico a farm and Chile a mine.  But now you’ve got no more mines, farms and factories to hand over to them…so how do you pay for your next cell phone?  That, essentially, is the problem we have.

A course of balanced budgets, regulatory relief, corporate reform (Big Corporation is nearly as bad as Big Government…such corporations tend to work for a restraint of trade nearly as much as unions do…and we need to figure out a system which ensures that small and mid-sized players can compete against the big boys), tax adjustments to ensure no foreign enterprise has a tax advantage over us and a general insistence that work replace welfare will fix what is wrong with us.  Not overnight.  It took many years to get in to this mess and it will take quite a while to get out of it.  The good news is that we can still fix it – there is still enough genuine American spirit in the United States to overcome the debt and the laziness and the consumerism of the past.   The bad news is that the window of opportunity is closing fast…if we don’t get our house in order soon then we will condemn ourselves to permanent decline.

2012 is that important – who we choose to give power to next year will determine, for good, the fate of our nation.  We’ll either do what is right and restore American greatness, or we’ll slink away in a cowardly surrender and insist upon a Big Government shroud for our national funeral.  We’ll see how we choose.